Wednesday, Aug. 27, 1997 | 1:59 a.m.
There will be more college gridiron action filling the air this fall than footballs doing the same at Sam Boyd Stadium.
An unprecedented 10 college football teams have secured area radio affiliates for the upcoming season.
Forget the half-dozen NFL teams and the weekly high school games and even the network college packages offered on KENO 1460-AM. If there is a particular Division I-A program you want to hear, there nearly is a 10-percent chance it will be carried on Las Vegas airwaves.
"It's pretty phenomenal what's going on with college football on radio in this town," said Alex Shelton of Las Vegas-based Elmore Sports & Events.
Shelton's company recently garnered the radio rights to three schools not even remotely close to our neck of the desert: Hawaii, Washington and Washington State. All will be aired on KSHP 1400-AM.
There are other oddities like Ohio State and Nebraska, given regional teams such as Brigham Young, Utah and Nevada-Reno cannot be heard in the valley.
But there are logical affiliations, too. Southern Cal and UCLA are plausible. So is Notre Dame. Maybe even Arizona.
But why are stations broadcasting so many far-away colleges? There are nearly as many reasons as school colors.
KKVV 1060-AM, a Christian station, carries the Buckeyes because its station is run by a former Ohioan. KLAV 1230-AM offers Cornhuskers games because their local booster club, the Las Vegas Nebraskans, have purchased the air time for eight years.
"We're seeing larger segments of people from particular parts of the country moving here, getting together and forming alumni groups and organizations," Shelton said. "It makes it easier for them to get together the capital to sponsor it.
"And from a university standpoint, they want to get their programs out to as many markets as possible -- not only to help their sponsors but to ask potential students and recruits to take a look at their schools."
Hawaii, however, was signed because of the old-fashioned concept of ratings. According to Shelton, Las Vegas is a popular destination for Hawaiians, not only to visit but also to transplant.
The Rainbows also are a popular target for sports bettors. Because of the time difference, the Rainbows can be the only game remaining on the board late at night. Those who did well on the earlier action lay some money because they have some to spare, while those who struggled drop some in an attempt to recuperate.
"It's one of the most bet-upon games in the city," Shelton said. "The demand is there."
Shelton predicts more colleges will be picked up for broadcast in coming seasons, and also points to the hardwood for the next trend. In addition to football, KSHP will air Hawaii, Washington and Washington State basketball games.
"Basketball is the next frontier," he said.
* INSERT FIGHT SONG HERE: ESPN (Prime Cable Channel 19) gets into the full swing of college action with "The Weekend Kickoff Show" Friday at 5 p.m. The weekly series subsequently will air prior to ESPN's "Thursday Night Game of the Week." ... Then the most complete show of its kind, ESPN's "College GameDay" begins Saturday at 8:30 a.m. The one-hour show will be transmitted from game sites at least 10 times this year. ... ESPN2 (Prime Cable Channel 31) offers its college football preview today at 4:30 p.m.
* STEPPED-UP PREPS: Caples Productions recently announced its lineups for this year's high school football season, including separate schedules for radio and cable television. The radio games will be heard live at 7 p.m. on KLAV 1230-AM for the second straight year, starting with Friday's Las Vegas at Clark contest. As usual, the TV games will be tape-delayed broadcasts on Prime Cable Channels 1 and 48 at 7 p.m. the Wednesday after each game, beginning a week from today with Rancho at Durango. KVBC Channel 3 sports director Andrew Smith has replaced KTNV Channel 13 sports director Ron Futrell as the TV play-by-play voice, while Trip Mitchell remains the color commentator. High school veteran Tim Neverett will make a few appearances as the TV play-by-play backup. On radio, Rob Buska calls the action and Will Case adds commentary.
TIM GRAHAM is a Las Vegas SUN sportswriter who is upset he can't listen to his beloved Kent Golden Flashes on local radio. His media column appears Wednesdays. He can be reached on the Internet at [email protected] lasvegassun.com